Bud Light lost its sales crown to Modelo Especial amid right-wing backlash, report finds

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Bud Light lost its sales crown to Modelo Especial amid right-wing backlash, report finds
Constellation Brands' Modelo Especial outsold Bud Light in May, a report says.Reuters
  • Bud Light sales dropped 23% in May, according to data from research firm Circana.
  • The drop came as the brand faced right-wing backlash over a promotion that featured a trans influencer.
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Modelo Especial dethroned embattled Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the US last month, a new report says.

Bud Light sales plunged 23% year-over-year in May to $297.3 million, according to data compiled by consumer-behavior research firm Circana and shared with Insider. Meanwhile, sales of the Mexican lager surged 15% to $333.1 million.

Conservative outrage over a March Madness promotion that featured transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked calls for a Bud Light boycott.

Bud Light lost its sales crown to Modelo Especial amid right-wing backlash, report finds
Anheuser-Busch suffered weeks of backlash from a Bud Light promotion featuring trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press and Rob Kim/Getty Images
Bud Light's parent company Anheuser-Busch initially stood by the promotion, but as the right-wing backlash grew, the executive who arranged the Mulvaney campaign took a leave of absence, and the brewing company reportedly offered to buy back expired cases of Bud Light from distributors and gave free cases of beer to distributor employees.

Analysts at JPMorgan recently warned that Bud Light sales could drop as much as 13% this year.

Rounding out the top five in beer sales for May were Michelob Ultra, Coors Light, and Miller Lite, Circana reports.

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In response to questions about the May drop in Bud Light sales, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Insider: "For the year, Bud Light remains the #1 brand in the US nationally in volume and dollar sales."

Constellation Brands, which holds the US brand license for Modelo, told Insider in a statement that its beer has seen "consistent and accelerated growth" since Constellation acquired the rights a decade ago.

"We continue to see runway for growth as we introduce Modelo to new consumers through increased distribution / presence at retail, in line with the brand's momentum in the marketplace," the statement said.

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